Does Mikey Johnston Have a Future at Celtic

The question of Mikey Johnston’s future, and whether he has one at Celtic Park, has once again been a hot topic of discussion following the winger’s debut for the Irish national team.  The 23 year-old is currently on loan with Portuguese Primeira Liga side Vitoria Guimarães where he has featured in 22 games in all competitions this season.

However, the Portuguese side has already confirmed that they will not be taking up the option to sign the winger on a permanent basis this summer.  Thus begging the question “Does Mikey Johnston have a future at Celtic?”

Youth and Young Manhood

Johnston first came to prominence as an 18 year-old while representing Scotland at the 2018 Toulon Tournament.  The Glasgow-born winger lit up the tournament with some dazzling individual performances, including an incredible solo goal against England in the semi-finals.  He would end the Tournament with the title of third best player in the competition and a place in the Tournament’s Best XI.

Having made fleeting first-team appearances in the previous two campaigns, 2018/19 was Johnston’s breakthrough season with Celtic.  He featured in 23 games across all competitions, contributing 5 goals and 1 assist in 1,063 minutes on the pitch; the equivalent to just under 12 full matches.

Undoubtedly a player with natural talent – who can forget his through pass for Edouard at Ibrox – Johnston’s development has been hampered by injuries and inconsistent form. That the 2018/19 season remains as Johnston’s most active season in terms of appearances and output speaks volumes.

Failure to Launch

Since September 2019, Johnston has spent more than 1.5 years on the Parkhead treatment table, missing 77 games.  A talent, yes. Unreliable? Also, yes.

Successive managers at Celtic Park from Rodgers to Lennon, and now Ange have all seen enough in the player to recognise his raw ability.  That none have placed the trust in him, or been able to make him a first-team starter suggests that he still resides in the ‘player of great potential’ category.  At 23 years of age, time is running out on Mikey Johnston turning that potential ability into actual ability.

The move to Guimarães was intended to be a kick-start to his career, and to a degree it has been as it has brought about a call up to the Irish national squad.  However, a return of 1 goal and 2 assists in the league – the last of which came back in October – is unlikely to be enough to win over Ange Postecoglou and force Johnston back into the Aussie’s long-term plans.

With Guimarães confirming they will not be taking up the option to buy Johnston in the summer, a return to Celtic Park, however brief, is on the cards.  The player is under contract with Celtic until May 2026 and may still fancy his chances of breaking into the first team, however, with Jota, Abada, Maeda, Hakšabanović, and James Forrest all ahead of him in the pecking order, those chances look pretty slim.

If Johnston is to have a future a Celtic, he may have to go out on loan once again to prove his case.

The future of Mikey Johnston was discussed at length on A Celtic State of Mind, below are some of the thoughts of those who contributed to the discussion:


Hopefully he comes back a with a bit more physicality.  I see him as being the opposite to Abada; he seems to have bags of talent and skill but next to no product, whereas Abada is all about his pace but he does get the goals and assists.

It’s hard to see how he gets back in the team because if guys like Abada are being kept out the team then it’s going to be quite difficult for Johnston to get in.  We also don’t have the injury crisis anymore that we had when he played the League Cup Final last December. 

I’m just not sure how he gets the Celtic team if I’m being honest.


It’s easy to write off Mikey Johnson but much like Anthony Ralston, successive managers have thought there was enough there not to put them out the door.  I’m not going to write him off and want to see what he can do at this level (for Ireland).

JP Mason

It would probably be up there with the greatest comeback since Lazarus.  He left Celtic with not many people shedding a tear.

I want him to do well in Portugal because he’s a Celtic guy, he’s come through the Youth Academy and always seemed to have a reasonably good attitude. 

I don’t know if he could come back and suddenly become a first team player at Celtic. It would depend on Postecoglou’s assessment of him then and now.  I don’t think it’s been a case of out of sight out of mind.  Ange will have been paying attention to everything he’s done in Portugal and not just base his opinion on a five minute flash against was a Latvia.

While there is no one rushing Mikey out the door, it does like he will have a job on his hands to win a place in the side once he returns to Paradise in the summer.

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